His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the head of state and spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. His Holiness was born on 6 July 1935 in Taktser village in northeastern Tibet to a peasant family. His Holiness was recognized at the age of two as the reincarnation the 13th Dalai Lama and is an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the Buddha of Compassion. His Holiness began his monastic education at the age of six. At twenty three he passed his final examination with honours and was awarded the Geshe Lharampa degree, equivalent to a doctorate of Buddhist philosophy. His Holiness describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk. In 1959, with the brutal suppression of the Tibetan national uprising by the Chinese, His Holiness was forced to escape to India. Since then he has been living in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government in exile. His Holiness has received over 84 awards, honorary doctorates and prizes in recognition of his message of peace, non-violence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion.
In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet. In October 2007, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the Government of the United States of America.
Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche
LRZTP Founder and Spiritual director
Our spiritual teacher and founder is Lama Zopa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist scholar and meditator who for 30 years has overseen the spiritual activities of the extensive worldwide network of centers, projects and services that form the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) which he founded with Lama Thubten Yeshe.
Rinpoche’s vision is vast and includes the proliferation of many charitable and beneficial activities. Among many projects dear to Rinpoche’s heart is our school, founded with the intention to train new interpreters and translators specialized in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche was born in 1946 in Thami, in the Mount Everest region of Nepal, not far from Lawudo cave where his predecessor had meditated for the last 20 years of his life.
The Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1959 forced him to forsake Tibet for the safety of Bhutan. Rinpoche then went to the Tibetan refugee camp in West Bengal, India, where he met Lama Yeshe, who became his closest teacher. The Lamas went to Nepal in 1967, and over the next few years built Kopan and Lawudo Monasteries. In 1971 Lama Zopa Rinpoche gave the first of his famous annual lam-rim retreat courses, which continue at Kopan to this day. When Lama Yeshe passed away in 1984, Lama Zopa Rinpoche became the spiritual head of the FPMT, which has continued to flourish under his peerless leadership. Rinpoche’s published teachings include Wisdom Energy (with Lama Yeshe), Transforming Problems, and a number of transcripts and practice booklets. You can read more about Lama Zopa Rinpoche here.
Founder of the FPMT – Lama Thubten Yeshe was born in Tibet in 1935. At the age of six, he entered Sera Monastic University in Tibet where he studied until 1959, when as Lama Yeshe himself has said, “In that year the Chinese kindly told us that it was time to leave Tibet and meet the outside world.” Lama Thubten Yeshe and Lama Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, together as teacher and disciple since their exile in India, met their first Western students in 1965. By 1971 they settled at Kopan, a small hamlet near Kathmandu in Nepal.
In 1972, in response to the ever-growing demand from their Western students, the Lamas decided to open a sister centre, which was intended to be used for retreats. They decided to locate it in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, which was home to many of their teachers, and so Tushita Retreat Centre (which was later renamed Tushita Meditation Centre) was founded.
In 1974, the Lamas began touring and teaching in the West, which would eventually result in The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). Lama Yeshe died in 1984, his reincarnation Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche was born to Spanish parents in 1985. You can read more about Osel here.